Doctrine and Covenants 86

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 141–42


In section 86 the Lord explains the parable of the wheat and the tares. President Joseph Fielding Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:

“In this revelation the Lord has given a more complete interpretation than he gave to his apostles as recorded by Matthew. The reason for this may be accounted for in the fact that it is to be in these last days that the harvest is gathered and the tares are to be burned. In Matthew’s account the Lord declares that he is the sower of the good seed, and in the Doctrine and Covenants it is stated that the apostles were the sowers of the seed. There is no contradiction here. Christ is the author of our salvation and he it was who instructed the apostles, and under him they were sent to preach the Gospel unto all the world, or to sow the seed, and as the seed is his and it is sown under his command, he states but the fact in this revelation and also in the parable” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:353).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • Modern revelation can help us understand ancient scripture (see D&C 86; see also Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43).

  • The righteous will live among the wicked until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Then the righteous will be gathered out and the wicked will be destroyed (see D&C 86:4–7; see also 1 Nephi 22:11–17; D&C 63:54).

  • Men who are literal descendants of Israel are “lawful heirs” to the priesthood. They must be righteous examples as they help bring salvation to others (see D&C 86:8–11).

Additional Resources

  • Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 189–92.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 86. The righteous will live among the wicked until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Then the righteous will be gathered out and the wicked will be destroyed.

(20–25 minutes)

Have students read the definition of tares in the Bible Dictionary (p. 780). Ask: Since young wheat and young tares look like each other, when would be the best time to separate the wheat from the tares? Why? Remind students that the Savior gave the parable of the wheat and the tares during His earthly ministry. Read Matthew 13:24–30 and the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 86. Ask:

  • What is the parable of the wheat and the tares about?

  • What do we learn about this parable from the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 86?

Invite students to give a possible interpretation of this parable. Read Matthew 13:36–43 to find the Lord’s interpretation (see also JST, Matthew 13:39–44). Read Doctrine and Covenants 86:1–3 and ask: What do these verses add to your understanding of the parable? Testify of the increased understanding that comes through modern revelation.

Have a student read verses 4–7 aloud, and ask:

  • Who does the wheat represent?

  • Who do the tares represent?

  • What words in verse 4 tell us that this parable applies to us?

  • According to verse 6, why is the Lord waiting to separate the wheat from the tares?

  • What evidence is there in the world that the wheat and the tares are growing together?

  • How will the harvest take place? (see Joseph Smith’s statement at the end of the commentary for D&C 86:1–7 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, p. 190).

  • What will happen to the tares, or the wicked, when the Lord comes again?

Explain that verses 8–11 reveal what the Lord expects of those who are “lawful heirs” to the priesthood as this separation takes place. Read those verses, and discuss the following questions:

  • What does the Lord expect of us?

  • Who are we to be a light to?

  • How can the priesthood bless those who are not members of the Church? (By helping them receive the ordinances of salvation.)

Read verse 9 and then share this statement by Elder Theodore M. Burton, who was then an Assistant to the Council of the Twelve:

“What does the Lord mean by the expression ‘hid from the world with Christ in God’? He means that according to the plan of salvation you were reserved or held back in the heavens as special spirit children to be born in a time and at a place where you could perform a special mission in life. …

“From the time the earth was originally planned, God the Eternal Father knew that in the last days Satan would become desperate. As the second coming of Jesus Christ approaches, Satan is doing everything in his power to destroy the work of God. He is using every artifice he can imagine to destroy the plan of salvation. He is raging in blood and horror on the earth. But God knew what Satan would attempt to do in these days and devised a plan to meet that challenge.

“God reserved for these days some of his most valiant sons and daughters. He held back for our day proved and trusted children, who he knew from their premortal behavior would hear the voice of the Shepherd and would accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. He knew they would qualify themselves to receive the priesthood, that they would use the holy priesthood to limit Satan’s destructiveness and make it possible for God to complete the work he had planned for the saving of his children.

“You young men of the Aaronic Priesthood represent, therefore, some of the finest men ever to be born on the earth. You are an elect generation, a royal priesthood. As Peter expressed it, ‘Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.’ (1 Pet. 2:9.)

“This birthright is only possible for you because you have the finest fathers and mothers ever given to any generation” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 103–4; or Ensign, May 1975, 69).